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Certified Nursing Assistant Training

Train. Test. Work. Enroll in no-cost training and testing to work in senior care!

Find a course: All available courses are listed on the Minnesota State website

Those who enroll in a course through this initiative will have the cost of their training, books, scrubs, and certification exam covered. Once certified, nursing assistants can apply for positions at any long-term care facility, hospital, and veterans home in Minnesota.

After meeting our initial goal of recruiting and training 1,000 new nursing assistants, the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative received additional funding and we offered a second round of free training. Now, during the 2023 Legislative Session, the Next Generation Nursing Initiative received funding to continue the program into 2025. 

Program eligibility:

  • Free CNA training is open to all Minnesotans who are 16 or older and able to work in the United States. 
  • Each program/college may have their own enrollment requirements. 
  • Some training providers may require background checks. 
  • All employers will require background checks. 
  • Employers will require CNAs are up-to-date on their vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Register to take your certification exam

If you received free training through this initiative, the next step is to take your certification exam. For anyone who received free training through this initiative, your certification exam fee will be provided at no cost to you.

Note: To complete certification, you will need to take a skills test AND a knowledge test.

Find more information on the Minnesota State website. Once certified, you will be able eligible for employment at any hospital, veterans homes, or long-term care facility in Minnesota.

Other ways to find training:

In addition to this opportunity, there are other great ways to get free training and start your career. 

Many employers offer scholarship assistance to student staff members preparing for careers in healthcare. A nursing assistant who is employed by or has received an offer of employment from a certified nursing home may be eligible for employer reimbursement to cover the cost of nursing assistant training and certification testing.

Please contact your employer of choice for more details or visit the Minnesota Department of Health website to learn more. 

Looking to hire Next Generation Nursing Assistants?

Next Generation Nursing Assistant training programs focus on connecting candidates with employer partners in long term care. Training programs will facilitate these connections virtually or in-person. Example of employer connections include employer presentations and panels, career fairs, promotion of local job openings, and more!

If you are an employer who is interested in connecting with students trained through the Next Generation Nursing Assistant, please reach out to your MN State college campus contact who will be happy to invite you to upcoming events and share information about your job opportunities. Check out the campus locator on the Minnesota State website or use the “contact us” feature on that website. 

The goal of the initiative is to expand the nursing assistant workforce and encourage people join the healthcare field as nursing assistants. Employers looking to train current employees should use the current Nursing Assistant Training reimbursement process already in place through MN Department of Human Services to pay for training and nursing assistant registry testing. 

Why did the State of Minnesota set this goal?

Good question! According to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nursing assistants are the sixth highest in-demand job in the state. This need has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the current pipeline of students pursing a CNA credential is not poised to meet the demand.

To address this need, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education is convening a work group of state agencies, higher education institutions, and long-term care providers to implement the recruiting and training program. The initiative will offer resources and support to those pursuing a CNA credential from the first day of class to the first day on the job. This includes covering costs for tuition, fees, and materials. Additional investments will support transportation and technology needs for students.

The program will also provide up to 10 high schools with funds for lab equipment necessary to offer nursing assistant training classes on site. Information on how high schools can apply to be considered will be provided shortly. This website will be updated at that time.

The initiative is made possible through federal American Rescue Plan funds.

Member organizations of the workgroup include:

  • Care Providers of Minnesota
  • Leading Age MN
  • Minnesota Department of Education
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
  • Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Read the initial press release from Governor Tim Walz announcing this initiative.

Click to view a printable Fact Sheet about the Next Generation Nursing Assistant initiative

For questions about the initiative, contact

Download the Monitoring Report

Nursing Assistant Initiative Monitoring Report - Fiscal Year 2022-2023

Nursing Assistant Initiative Monitoring Report - Fiscal Year 2022